#nethack RPGs

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Postby xwd » 2010.12.14 (05:13)

In the past two weeks or so, I've started running Labyrinth Lord on IRC, channel is #nethack. LL, for those of you not in the know, is free for the no-art version. It is, for all intents and purposes, B/X D&D (aka Basic aka Red Box aka the one from 1980 edited by Moldvay) while technically not actually being D&D due to copyright reasons. It is an incredibly different game from other versions of D&D. If you're used to 3.5 or 4e, this is nothing like them. For one, the book is actually written in a way that you can just read straight through it and learn everything. For another, it's a hell of a lot lighter, has a stronger focus on exploration, and will fucking kill you. I'm not exaggerating. Most classes get d6 hit dice. Most weapons do d6 or d8 damage. I'm sure you can figure out what the average mortality rate is for LL characters. On the plus side, it takes about 5 minutes to make a character, so you can get back in the game pretty fast. I'm a fairly inexperienced DM, so I'm trying my best not to kill any characters if I can help it. (If they die, they can always come back in Risus, where nobody dies unless it would be totally awesome.) It also has a bunch of other fun quirks to it, like races-as-classes, ambiguous alignment, and sided initiative.

I'm more than willing to talk about this with anyone. I can tell you about my experiences playing it (there was this time I knocked out the party Magic-User while trying to see if the magic rings we had actually worked, there was this time I ran over an exploded, burning bridge, and there was this time I stabbed a guy with two short swords at the same time) and make a character with you. I'm really a softie. 4d6d1 in order, first hit die is maximized. That should get you a character that doesn't suck and won't be gibbed by a stiff breeze. No promises if you run into a pack of goblins. If you want to get serious, I have a TeamSpeak server we can use and can host a MapTool server for us to roll dice in, doodle on, and chat in.

I play Labyrinth Lord with an online group on Sundays at 6:30 PM. We're more or less full right now, but I'll keep you updated on the cool stuff we get into. If you'd like to attempt to have some sort of input on it, you can read and comment on this blog. Mess with my DM's head!

What I'd really like to play is Risus. It's the only RPG where not only is combat hairdressing a valid strategy, it can be incredibly lethal if done correctly. It's light, it's silly, it works perfectly over IRC.

And of course, I'm what I refer to as an "RPG whore": I'll pretty much play anything with anyone at any time I'm not busy.

Games I'm currently running:
- (LL) Dreok the Fighter and Rachael the Magic-User investing rumors of skeletons in caves near a village (with Bio and Calvin (DoctorAperture))
- (LL) Jones the Thief trying to find himself a new longbow and getting more than he bargained for (with Calvin (DoctorAperture))
- (Risus) In a parallel dimension, Salgo can't remember the last few days and someone keeps trying to kill Rachael (with Bio and Calvin (DoctorAperture))
Last edited by xwd on 2010.12.15 (06:08), edited 1 time in total.

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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2010.12.14 (17:19)

Interesting. I've only played 1st Edition a handful of times but was never really motivated to continue. I was caught on a handful of stumbling blocks... primarily that the game sucked astonishing quantities of horse dicks. It was good otherwise, just that it was bag after bag of horse dicks, non-stop while you tried in vain to enjoy yourself. I've found that the 1st Edition D&D ruleset is only really enjoyable when played ironically.
It turns out there's a reason why systems are completely remade and why projects are abandoned -- they may have been novel ideas in their time, but their execution was terrible. Just like ancient medicine and alchemy, 1st Edition D&D is a fantastic example of this phenomenon. I don't mean to imply anything about you, but the one group of 1st Edition groupies I've found (and this was within the last two years or so, definitely beyond the point 1st Edition should have died out) were... lacking in the mental faculties which one might use to critically evaluate a mathematical system (which I maintain all of the appreciably popular tabletop roleplaying systems ultimately are).

Now, just so you don't think I'm trolling you here, let me give you an overview of my experience. I started playing tabletop roleplaying games with D&D 2nd Edition (AD&D, as it were) when I was 10 years old. Throughout middle school, I managed to hold semi-regular sessions with a small group of friends, and then became much more heavily involved in high school with the release of 3rd Edition (and the update to 3.5). Since then, I've played somewhat inconsistently, transitioning through periods of regular and frequent gaming sessions to periods of doing more productive things with my time. I've picked up experience with L5R (both editions), White Wolf (both editions), Exalted (both editions), Deadlands, Star Wars d20 (shudder), and of course 1st through 4th Editions of D&D and Pathfinder. On top of all that, my high school gaming group made our own homebrew systems that we playtested and tweaked constantly, a practice which continues on holiday breaks when we're all back in the same town. And I've been making gradual progress in writing my own gaming system over the last year or so based on a thorough analysis of all the gaming mechanics I've played to death. Also, I'm really good at math.

So it's from this basis that I condemn 1st Edition D&D. It's not that it's too "harsh" or "different" or "old school" for me, because I've played and enjoyed systems that had those features to much more significant degrees. It's just that it's bad, plain and simple. It was a great first try, a great experiment, a great launching ground to organize ideas for a more coherent revision, but just like MS-DOS, no one in their right fucking mind would attempt to enjoy it for its own sake. And also like MS-DOS, anyone who does come away with the impression that it does any meaningful number of things right is plainly unqualified to make those kinds of judgments about a system more complicated than a bowling ball. Playing 1st Edition in earnest is like rubbing fox testicles on your wounds because Pliny the Elder said it wards off infection -- you really ought to know better.

But hey, if you have fun, I won't come into #nethack and stomp on your parade. You go ahead and enjoy your square-wheeled bicycle with your little friends.
"you know i always joked that it would be scary as hell to run into DMX in a dark ally, but secretly when i say 'DMX' i really mean 'Tsukatu'." -kai

"... and when i say 'scary as hell' i really mean 'tight pink shirt'." -kai


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Postby xwd » 2010.12.14 (23:49)

Go ahead and rag on 1st edition (AD&D) all you want. I'm playing Labyrinth Lord (B/X). AD&D is kind of wonky (everybody loves weapon lengths and time segments and all that stuff, right?). Also there was OD&D before B/X, and that's not really even a complete system. It only has 3 classes and is missing a bunch of stuff 'cause it assumes you also have Chainmail. Nah. I'm running LL. It's different. Heck, even LL+AEC isn't AD&D, it's more like a mash-up of AD&D and B/X. All the variety, less of the overhead.

You haven't seen how little I actually use the system itself. The only reason I'm using Labyrinth Lord is because Bio wanted to play D&D and LL is D&D while technically not being D&D, plus I'm fairly familiar with it. I'd be perfectly fine running Risus or Old School Hack or Fudge or any one of the number of random systems I happen to have lying around on my computer. This thread's mainly just so I can see if anyone else wants in on this action, because like sex, the more people you have, the better it is.

I'll be the first to admit LL is full of less-than desirable aspects. I think races-as-classes are weird. I don't like how 1st level characters are made out of tissue paper and cotton candy. I find it amusing that Sleep is effectively a tactical nuke. I've never had a character live long enough to make it to 2nd level despite playing about once a week for close to a year now. But it has its strengths. I like the combat system. Sided initiative is fun as hell. It's abstract enough that it encourages fortune-in-the-middle. I like how fast character generation is (not as fast as Risus, but short enough that you can do it if you get bored during someone else's turn in a 4e game). The game and the way we're playing it actually works perfectly fine over IRC. You don't need a battle map unless you want tactical combat, and I don't really care enough about that to want it.

Also, don't worry about trolling me. You're coming up with funny insults! It's not like I'm an AD&D 2e player. I hear those guys can be real assholes.

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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2010.12.15 (00:57)

xwd wrote:You haven't seen how little I actually use the system itself.

This is probably tangential to what we've just talked about, but I'm pretty strict about judging a system based on its rules, without modifications or house rules entering the picture at any point.
For one thing, if it's a published system, there was probably considerable effort put into designing and playtesting it before publication; the fact that someone paid money to distribute the rules to people with the expectations that it would be profitable speaks to its functionality with exactly the rule set described in the manual(s). Making changes to the rules very probably screws up the intended balance in the mechanics that the designers worked hard to ensure.
And for another thing, using a meaningfully smaller subset of the rules and/or having a significant number of house rules is usually indicative of either a terrible system or a clueless gaming group (although these are by no means mutually exclusive, viz. your group).

So I guess if I were to speak more to the point, I'd say you're probably better off finding a different system to try. Or at the very least describe the system you're using as "some amateur crap I made up that's loosely based on Labyrinth Lord". (I can change the topic title for you, if you like.)

xwd wrote:This thread's mainly just so I can see if anyone else wants in on this action, because like sex, the more people you have, the better it is.

GM a group of seven players or more, and then try saying that with a straight face. And without crying.

xwd wrote:I don't like how 1st level characters are made out of tissue paper and cotton candy.
...
I find it amusing that Sleep is effectively a tactical nuke.
...
I like the combat system.
...
You don't need a battle map unless you want tactical combat, and I don't really care enough about that to want it.

Reconcile these, plz.

xwd wrote:I've never had a character live long enough to make it to 2nd level despite playing about once a week for close to a year now.

Okay, um, this is a huge fucking problem. I'm not quite sure why you're still playing this system despite this catastrophic failure. This is a gigantic neon sign that you and/or the system are doing things horribly, horribly wrong, and everyone involved should take a lesson from the experience before moving on and never coming back.

xwd wrote:It's not like I'm an AD&D 2e player. I hear those guys can be real assholes.

Just for the record, I haven't played AD&D since the end of middle school (unless you count my playing Baldur's Gate II, which is an excellent game in spite of this setback), and I don't think it was all that much more playable or sensible than 1st Edition. AD&D was simply the system I started off with, and just like I started off with MS-DOS and was insufficiently deranged to continue using it, there's nothing keeping me playing AD&D.
If you must know, my favorite systems these days are L5R and White Wolf.

"you know i always joked that it would be scary as hell to run into DMX in a dark ally, but secretly when i say 'DMX' i really mean 'Tsukatu'." -kai

"... and when i say 'scary as hell' i really mean 'tight pink shirt'." -kai




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Postby xwd » 2010.12.15 (06:04)

T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:
xwd wrote:You haven't seen how little I actually use the system itself.

This is probably tangential to what we've just talked about, but I'm pretty strict about judging a system based on its rules, without modifications or house rules entering the picture at any point.
For one thing, if it's a published system, there was probably considerable effort put into designing and playtesting it before publication; the fact that someone paid money to distribute the rules to people with the expectations that it would be profitable speaks to its functionality with exactly the rule set described in the manual(s). Making changes to the rules very probably screws up the intended balance in the mechanics that the designers worked hard to ensure.
And for another thing, using a meaningfully smaller subset of the rules and/or having a significant number of house rules is usually indicative of either a terrible system or a clueless gaming group (although these are by no means mutually exclusive, viz. your group).

As I said before, OD&D was more or less half a rule system. B/X is actually a full set, working as written, though it does encourage you to come up with your own rules or change them if you don't like them, since that's what the designers themselves did and the system is light enough that you can see how everything works. I think LL is mostly just some people's house rules for B/X written up. Obviously, if you can't find a system you like enough and don't feel like messing with an existing one, you can just make your own. I've got some friends doing that, and I'm excited to test what they've come up with.

T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:So I guess if I were to speak more to the point, I'd say you're probably better off finding a different system to try.

Well I want people to play Risus but Bio likes Labyrinth Lord more. I'll see what I can do about roping people into playing random stuff, since I've been meaning to do that for a few months now but have been too busy to do it.

T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:Or at the very least describe the system you're using as "some amateur crap I made up that's loosely based on Labyrinth Lord". (I can change the topic title for you, if you like.)

I haven't made any major changes, though with the way I play, it probably doesn't even matter which system I'm using that much anyway. I still like LL. It's easy to learn, which is why I pointed it out to Bio and ran it for him. He's even newer than I am at the whole RPG thing. Though if I'm going to expand this thread into talking about whatever RPGs we happen to play or want to play, I should change the title.

T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:
xwd wrote:This thread's mainly just so I can see if anyone else wants in on this action, because like sex, the more people you have, the better it is.

GM a group of seven players or more, and then try saying that with a straight face. And without crying.

I'll probably stop taking people once I hit a certain point. Which I haven't yet. I'll get back to you when I start setting a hard cap at six players. I have been in a group with seven players, and it was kind of a clusterfuck.

T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:
xwd wrote:I don't like how 1st level characters are made out of tissue paper and cotton candy.
...
I find it amusing that Sleep is effectively a tactical nuke.
...
I like the combat system.
...
You don't need a battle map unless you want tactical combat, and I don't really care enough about that to want it.

Reconcile these, plz.

Okay.

Characters have d4, d6, or d8 hit dice. Weapons can do d4, d6, d8, or d10 damage. When you hit 0 HP, you're dead. It's therefore possible for pretty much any character to get punked out in one hit in a round of combat. Magic-Users especially, since they can't wear armor. (6. 13. 5. Your Magic-User is dead. Thanks for playing!) This makes combat incredibly lethal, because the next few dice rolls could mean the difference between victory and becoming a blood stain on the floor. It gives me an incredible adrenalin rush.

Sleep causes 2d8 hit dice of monsters to fall asleep, no saving throw. This is usually enough to take out everything in the encounter. The catch is, you can only do it once a day, and you still need to be able to successfully cast it without getting hit or anything.

The main thing I like about the combat system is that you need to declare what you're doing before any dice are rolled, including the initiative roll (initiative is rolled every round), so you need to come up with a plan that works whether your side goes first or second. And then things get crazy when both sides roll the same number and go at the same time.

Tactical combat is well, just combat with minis and stuff. I'm a lazy bastard, so we don't do that when I've tried running games. It makes it easier to run over IRC.

T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:
xwd wrote:I've never had a character live long enough to make it to 2nd level despite playing about once a week for close to a year now.

Okay, um, this is a huge fucking problem. I'm not quite sure why you're still playing this system despite this catastrophic failure. This is a gigantic neon sign that you and/or the system are doing things horribly, horribly wrong, and everyone involved should take a lesson from the experience before moving on and never coming back.

The experience system in B/X and LL is broken. I should've mentioned this earlier. Despite the fact that you get XP from finding loot, at higher levels you would literally need tons and tons of gold to be able to advance. Monsters aren't a good source of XP, and you don't get XP from magic items. And all that time you spend sitting around talking in character doesn't help either. Yeah. It's pretty broken. (detailed explanation here) It also doesn't help that characters get killed all the time, which is the real reason why we're perpetually stuck at level 1, though I'm pretty sure it's because I'm still learning and our DM is bad at converting modules from 3.5.

T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:
xwd wrote:It's not like I'm an AD&D 2e player. I hear those guys can be real assholes.

Just for the record, I haven't played AD&D since the end of middle school (unless you count my playing Baldur's Gate II, which is an excellent game in spite of this setback), and I don't think it was all that much more playable or sensible than 1st Edition. AD&D was simply the system I started off with, and just like I started off with MS-DOS and was insufficiently deranged to continue using it, there's nothing keeping me playing AD&D.
If you must know, my favorite systems these days are L5R and White Wolf.

Systems I have played recently that I have enjoyed include Risus, kill puppies for satan, and ICONS. Oh, and that wasn't a shot at you. One of my friends checked out a forum for AD&D 2e stuff, and he told me that's where all the assholes are, the ones closed to new ideas and discussion. Probably like those deluded guys you mentioned earlier.

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Postby t̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư » 2010.12.15 (16:27)

xwd wrote:Obviously, if you can't find a system you like enough and don't feel like messing with an existing one, you can just make your own. I've got some friends doing that, and I'm excited to test what they've come up with.

Are your "some friends" also inexperienced?

xwd wrote:Well I want people to play Risus but Bio likes Labyrinth Lord more.

Fuck Bio. Risus is awesome and Bio doesn't know what's good for him.

xwd wrote:
T̷s͢uk̕a͡t͜ư wrote:
xwd wrote:I don't like how 1st level characters are made out of tissue paper and cotton candy.
...
I find it amusing that Sleep is effectively a tactical nuke.
...
I like the combat system.
...
You don't need a battle map unless you want tactical combat, and I don't really care enough about that to want it.

Reconcile these, plz.

Okay.

Characters have d4, d6, or d8 hit dice. Weapons can do d4, d6, d8, or d10 damage. When you hit 0 HP, you're dead. It's therefore possible for pretty much any character to get punked out in one hit in a round of combat. Magic-Users especially, since they can't wear armor. (6. 13. 5. Your Magic-User is dead. Thanks for playing!) This makes combat incredibly lethal, because the next few dice rolls could mean the difference between victory and becoming a blood stain on the floor. It gives me an incredible adrenalin rush.

Sleep causes 2d8 hit dice of monsters to fall asleep, no saving throw. This is usually enough to take out everything in the encounter. The catch is, you can only do it once a day, and you still need to be able to successfully cast it without getting hit or anything.

The main thing I like about the combat system is that you need to declare what you're doing before any dice are rolled, including the initiative roll (initiative is rolled every round), so you need to come up with a plan that works whether your side goes first or second. And then things get crazy when both sides roll the same number and go at the same time.

Tactical combat is well, just combat with minis and stuff. I'm a lazy bastard, so we don't do that when I've tried running games. It makes it easier to run over IRC.

No, not "explain" or "justify" -- reconcile these, please. Explain to me how you are not being inconsistent in holding these conflicting opinions simultaneously.
I mean, you don't like that characters die so very frequently due to broken combat mechanics (e.g. Sleep), but you love the combat system that kills them, and yet you're not really all that interested in combat anyway.

"you know i always joked that it would be scary as hell to run into DMX in a dark ally, but secretly when i say 'DMX' i really mean 'Tsukatu'." -kai

"... and when i say 'scary as hell' i really mean 'tight pink shirt'." -kai




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